Reflective Blog


What do I think of the Science of Education module? Well, it all started with a ten-minute introduction from Jesse on what the module was trying to achieve, no focus on content, no real boundaries on what we could discuss but an aim to learn something new and different. Well that is just what happened.

Engaging in discussion and taking a real interest in education was crucial in learning to enjoy the mammoth amount of writing involved in blogs and comments. Having the choice to study topics that are particularly interesting to you ensures that you shape your own module; I have an interest in mindfulness facilitated by my other module of choice this semester and I explored applications of such a skill that I had never considered before now. Every other individual on the course (hopefully) explores topics they are intrigued by, naturally, through presentations and comments, we produce a well-rounded learning experience for everyone. Whilst we are all still concerned about making the grade (extrinsic motivation), topics that one is genuinely interested produce intrigue (intrinsic motivation), leading to a deep knowledge and understanding of chosen topics.

This module sheds light on the shortcomings of many of the world’s education systems and stubbornness of those in charge to change such systems. We also learn about those few who are making a positive difference e.g. democratic school, which is both inspiring and relieving. The philosophy of our class is reinforced by the literature we trawl through day in day out.

Presentations in this class are perfect practice for dissertation oral examinations. POPPS class is supposed to do just this, but I think they fail to address a crucial part of presentations; presenters should be enthusiastic and the audience should want to hear about the topic. POPSS classes involve watching short presentations on topics that the presenter and audience have absolutely no interest in. In Science of Ed we choose what we watch and the presenter generally slaved away at a blog long enough to care about the delivery of content on a Thursday morning. This is what makes Thursdays for me, we roll in at a time students can successfully wake themselves, choose topics that interest us and sit back and learn.

In this semester I have heard scary stories about lecturers that do not have time for their students and consider themselves to be far superior to any undergraduate (like they were never one themselves). Jesse was the whistle-blower; moderating discussions, providing grades and at no point actually telling us anything about education. There was no esteemed master of knowledge, the knowledge is out there to find, accessible to all.  We learn to take the wheel and discover new things independently, strengthening self-discipline, understanding and tools of discovery.

Synthesis Blog


Attention is a concept we all understand, throughout our waking life we distribute our resources attending to various signs, smells, noises and more. Attention has an effect on our everyday experience because what we perceive and internalise relies on what we attend. Studying attention has opened my eyes to how much we can miss in our environment, from distant sounds to events unfolding in front of our eyes. As Kahneman (1973) proposed, attention is a resource, we must learn to use it effectively to interact with and understand our world. Whilst the ability to re-play scenarios and past experiences in our mind along with conceptualising our experience is arguably what makes us intelligent and highly adaptive, we must also recognise that our ability to just pay attention to our present experience is as useful in attempting to better our mind. In the precious few weeks we have left of our degree, it seems appropriate to round up all of my different aspects of attention in relation to assignment writing.

When it comes to blog writing or the dreaded dissertation, attention must be focussed on task. Divided attention, whilst helpful for tasks such as driving and cooking is perhaps not appropriate for assignment writing. I stopped listening to music whilst writing to be fully immersed in my work, congruent with the theory that attention is a resource, our processing is limited and best focused on the single task at hand. In mindfulness we recognise that our ability to do multiple tasks at once can hinder the quality of our work; perhaps we are bothered by an unpleasant social situation or lecture in our near future that plagues our mind and leaves us dreading every minute we experience prior to event, our ability to focus on work or our lunch for instance will be hampered. As James (1890) said, we must grasp one train of thought and withdraw from others; forget about problems we can’t solve with our mind (e.g. how unpleasant will tomorrow’s lecture be) and focus on the task at hand (e.g. how can I truly synthesise my topic of attention into one blog).

Much of my focus, even before starting the topic of attention, was focussed on the benefits that can be reaped from incorporating mindfulness into the education system. My argument for this change was based on the lack of instruction on focussing ones mind on task in schools; without discipline and an authoritarian style of teaching from an early age, I believe all children would run riot in schools. Firstly, schools should teach children methods of focussing, boredom affects us all and mindfulness can be effective in this (Malinowski, 2013). Secondly, there should be a focus on teaching self-regulation; punishments for students only teach them how to be controlled and do not cultivate the self-discipline needed once in the working or undergraduate environment; this also applies to children with ADHD that are so often controlled with contingency management (DuPaul & Eckert, 1997). Thirdly, emotions and our reactions to our peers and everyday stressors are not addressed in school; emotional regulation (especially in childhood) is critical for teamwork and daily interactions among students and teachers. I think I have shown logic and evidence for using mindfulness to address these issues; Napoli, Krech and Holley (2005) used a 24-week mindfulness program for early elementary students to combat stress and the anxiety, violence and depression that can ensue.

Students are increasingly put under more pressure to succeed; exams and assignments can become serious stressors, especially when there are great expectations and/or competition. A little stress is good for us, but every year there are multiple suicides committed by young students over exam stress. Anxiety, depression and substance abuse can be prevalent among stressed students, especially at undergraduate level. I have argued that whilst there are many pharmacological fixers on the market for depression, there is an overreliance on such medication and bad practice relating to use with children. Stress eats away at the sufferer, consuming attentional resources; academic performance is inevitably altered by the presence of stress, depression and anxiety. In schools there is are multiple factors all interacting; social learning (interactions with other pupils and teachers), competition, bullying (perpetrators having a high prevalence of severe depression), threat exaggeration for those being bullied or exhibiting symptoms of depression (Vasey, Daleiden, Williams and Brown, 1995) and those with impaired learning or attention. These factors lead to school becoming a complex environment where the aim should not only be to educate and better knowledge of the students, but to make them feel valued and discover their talents.

ADHD is another good example of the overreliance on medication and simple contingency management for problematic behaviour. One problem faced by those who care for sufferers is compliance; Singh et al (2010) explored the use of a mindfulness course for such a population. They found significantly more satisfying interactions for parents of ADHD children after the course; whether this is due to a change in perception of the parents, the behaviour of the child or a combination, it shows the value of mindfulness in a variety of areas. For those of us not suffering from an attention disorder, habits such as rumination (replaying negative thoughts, focused attention on source of distress) can have disastrous effects on our concentration. Indeed Semple, Reid and Miller (2005) found anxiety to be a major factor in exam performance and that a mindfulness course could significantly reduce exam anxiety to reduce the impact on performance.

One of the main aims of mindfulness is sharpening the skill of attention, but what about other techniques or even drugs for enhancing attention. Alec wrote a detailed blog and presentation on the use of ADHD drugs and other attention changing substances in academia, it is not surprising that on the one hand we have individuals abusing substances because of academic stress and those using drugs to boost performance. I have praised the value of music in education in a couple of my blogs and provided some literature to show it has a positive effect of neuroplasticity (Rosenkranz, Williamon & Rothwell, 2007), Jan-David made an excellent point when suggesting the integration of mindfulness with art such as music and painting; making mindfulness accessible to everyone is of utmost importance when considering implementation in education. Strait and Kraus (2011) reinforced the idea of using musical training for individuals with attention problems as it facilitates sustaining auditory attention.

Cho et al (2002a) explored the use of biofeedback using EEG in virtual environments for individuals with attention problems; the benefit of biofeedback is the ability for the individual to take control, virtual reality is supposedly more immersive for these subjects and may be more accessible to children of the video game generation. Many of the alternatives to mindfulness are either costly, hard to implement or not accessible to all; as I have argued through my blog the benefits of mindfulness are wide (motivation, emotion and attention) and yet easy to incorporate into the classroom setting. Bosse and Valdois (2009) explored how attention span can have a direct influence on reading ability; learning is hampered when, say, a child lacks the attention needed for reading letters to form words. Binder, Haughton and Van Eyk (1990) created bespoke learning environments to suit specific needs of certain children. They found that tailoring education to the student’s pace was effective in keeping the student engaged and advancing through material.

Applying the mind is not easy, before studying mindfulness I would frequently begrudge myself for not being able to write an assignment or focus on a program for a length of time. Conceptualising attention as a skill and something that requires practice to maintain and work effectively is logical and possibly a revelation to some. Personally, I have found my attention much easier to focus since starting the eight-week mindfulness course this semester. The practice offers many benefits that are all useful in everyday life and especially in education, where things can get stressful, there is mass socialising and the quality of performance can have a lasting impact. Attention as a subject is wholly relevant to everyone; it impacts our perception and our interaction with individuals and the environment, it can be fleeting or it can flourish to create amazing works. Mindfulness is deeply connected with attention and I believe I have shown enough evidence to justify using it in education to better the next generation, not only in their performance and emotional regulation but consequently in their quality of life. This is not say those outside of education cannot benefit; the brain is plastic and we can all learn new things.

Just pay attention.


Binder, C, V., Haughton, E., & Van Eyk, D. (1990). Increasing endurance by building fluency; Precision teaching attention span. Teaching exceptional children, 22(3), 24-27.

Bosse, M. & Valdois, S. (2009). Influence of the visual attention span on child reading performance:
a cross-sectional study. Journal of Research in Reading, 32, (2), pp 230–253. DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9817.2008.01387.x

Cho, B. H., Ku, J., Jang, D. P., Kim, S., Lee, Y. H., Kim, I. Y. (2002a). Attention Enhancement System using Virtual Reality and EEG Biofeedback. IEEE Virtual Reality 1087-8270/02

DuPaul, G. J., Eckert, T. L. (1997) The Effects of School-Based Interventions for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder: A Meta-Analysis. School Psychology Review, 26, 5-27

James, W. (1890). The Principles of Psychology. New York: Henry Holt, Vol. 1, pp. 403-404

Kahneman, D. (1973). Attention and effort. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.

Malinowski, P. (2013). Neural mechanisms of attentional control in mindfulness meditation. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience. 7 (8) p1 doi: 10.3389/fnins.2013.00008

Napoli, M., Krech, P. R., & Holley, L. C. (2005). Mindfulness training for elementary school students: The attention academy. Journal of Applied School Psychology, 21, 99–125.

Rosenkranz, K., Williamon, A. & Rothwell, J. C. (2007) Motorcortical excitability and synaptic plasticity is enhanced in professional musicians. J. Neurosci. 27, 5200–5206.

Semple, R, J., Reid, E, G, F., Miller, L. (2005) Treating Anxiety With Mindfulness: An Open Trial of Mindfulness Training for Anxious Children. Journal of Cognitive Psychotherapy 19(4) pp 379

Singh, N, N., Singh, A, N., Lancioni, G, N., Singh, J., Winton, A, S, W. & Adkins, A, D. (2010) Mindfulness Training for Parents and Their Children With ADHD Increases the Children’s Compliance. J Child Fam Stud 19:157–166 DOI 10.1007/s10826-009-9272-z

Strait, D, L. & Kraus, N. (2011 ).Can you hear me now? Musical training shapes functional brain networks for selective auditory attention and hearing speech in noise. Music, attention, and cortical variability. Vol 2 113 doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2011.0011

Vasey, M, W., Daleiden, E, L., Williams, L, L. & Brown, L, M. (1995). Biased Attention in Childhood Anxiety Disorders: A Preliminary Study. Journal of Abnorrnal Child Psychology, Vol. 23, No. 2.

Attention Span


This week for my final blog on a topic within the field of attention I would like to discuss it’s span; how long we humans can focus on a task without distraction. It has been argued (I have not found scientific evidence) that the majority of healthy teenagers and adults cannot sustain attention on one thing for more than forty minutes without a break. We can renew our attention e.g. with long movies, but after forty minutes we are much quicker to leave the current task and grasp another train of thought that takes our fancy. It is also suggested that our attention span is longer for tasks we enjoy and are intrinsically motivated to complete; therefore transforming the education system into something it’s pupils can enjoy and want to succeed at seems imperative.

Studies of attention span are not only concerned with how we can re-apply ourselves to a specific task or material, but how our attention can influence our learning. Bosse and Valdois (2009) explored how reading performance is modulated by visual attention (VA) span; children require an attention span capable of, say, processing every letter in a long word. Orthographic knowledge relies on VA abilities and this relationship further explains the academic performance of those with attention deficit disorders. Early in the semester I took interest in Alec’s Blog and his focus on the effect of television on children; I was a keen follower of Sesame Street as a child and wanted to know more about the cost and benefits of a media medium we use to death. Christakis, Zimmerman, DiGiuseppe and McCarty (2004) explored the effects of television exposure for one-to-three year olds on their attention in later life. They found that early exposure to television was associated with attention problems whilst controlling for factors like prenatal drug abuse, socioeconomic status and a number of other possible confounding variables. Whilst the researchers standard for attention problems was not necessarily correlated with clinically diagnosed ADHD and there are no studies linking early television viewing and ADHD, the study suggests that limiting television exposure in young children is prudent with other factors such as obesity and violent behaviour being taken into account.

Since studying neuroplasticity in more depth and reporting the positive effects meditation, physical exercise and music can have on its development; it has only solidified my view that engaging in mentally stimulating tasks improves our brain health. The experiment of Malcarne (1793) using animals brain dissections to research the state of the nervous system revealed that a subject’s cerebellum grew substantially larger with training compared to controls confirmed the concept of a plastic, fluid and non-fixed cognition system. In developed and modern developing countries Internet use is astoundingly high, as students we use it everyday for tasks such as this blog. Whilst the web is used for so many aspects of life e.g. social networking, shopping and information, we have not considered whether there is a cost to this rapid access if information. Neil Postman, in his book Amusing Ourselves To Death, argues that modern advances like television and the internet are decreasing our attention span. Small, Moody, Siddarth and Bookheimer (2008) explored the influence of Internet experience on brain activation in an effort to answer questions posed by individuals like Postman. Whilst the study fails to elucidate the positive and negative aspects of regular internet searching, it does show a significant difference in neural pathways of internet users and their counterparts in both book reading and internet search tasks.

In previous blogs I have argued that attention is a skill to be sharpened; this has been expressed somewhat in the work of Binder, Haughton and Van Eyk (1990) who explored the effectiveness of teachers creating bespoke learning environments based on a child’s attention span, with a focus on those with deficits. This research found that fluency of a topic or skill predicts how long the student will endure it; practice periods should increase as the subject makes advances, the researchers highlighted the importance of reducing task time to measure peak performance and keep students engaged.

Despite the eclectic nature of this blog’s research, I think I have addressed some issues faced in area of attention span; attention is limited (as Kahneman argued), we can train this skill to last longer and to some degree, activities that require a more sedentary approach e.g. television and the internet have an effect on such a skill. Whether that effect is positive or negative is subject to further research and dismantling attention into smaller subsections of study. What is clear (congruent with my previous blogs on attention) is that what we do with our brains predicts what we are able to do; the more we do, the more we can do. Attention is vital for our everyday experience; our ability to enjoy this experience and feel relatively in control (not propelled by extrinsic forces) shapes our performance and wellbeing.  Our ability to not only pay attention to our experience effectively but our reactions to that experience are vital for emotional and attentional regulation, a skill that we should hold in high esteem and impress upon children who need it most.


Binder, C, V., Haughton, E., & Van Eyk, D. (1990). Increasing endurance by building fluency; Precision teaching attention span. Teaching exceptional children, 22(3), 24-27.

Bosse, M. & Valdois, S. (2009). Influence of the visual attention span on child reading performance:
a cross-sectional study. Journal of Research in Reading, 32, (2), pp 230–253. DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9817.2008.01387.x

Christakis, D, A., Zimmerman, F, J., DiGiuseppe, D, L. & McCarty, C, A. (2004). Early Television Exposure and Subsequent Attentional Problems in Children. PEDIATRICS Vol. 113 (4) p 708

Small, G, W., Moody, T, D., Siddarth, P. & Bookheimer, S, Y. (2009). Your Brain on Google: Patterns of Cerebral Activation during Internet Searching. Am J Geriatr Psychiatry; 17:116–126




Enhancing Attention


I have focussed on mindfulness in a fair few of my recent blogs, whilst mindfulness is something I am interested and involved with, this week I would like address other attention enhancements that I have learned about. Mindfulness is a great tool for sharpening the skill of paying attention, but it is clear that it is not everyone’s cup of tea. If mindfulness were seriously considered for implementation in UK schools, it would be prudent to explore other areas of mental training in order to have choice and understand how effective each practice is and the cost/benefits of using it in an educational setting.

I regularly listen to music whilst studying; in fact, music is playing through most of my day, during cooking, showering, driving and unwinding. Sanabria, Capizzi and Correa (2011) investigated whether certain rhythms can speed up participant’s reaction times by facilitating attention. They found that rhythms orient temporal attention and can therefore aid in speeding it up. I have praised music for it’s beneficial, but undervalued presence in education in past blogs. Interestingly, Kim, Wigram and Gold (2008) found improvisational music to be significantly more effective than play in improving joint attention among children with Autism Spectrum Disorder. The researchers make a good case for the implementation of such activities in education as a facilitator of social interaction, attention and good behaviour.

Musicians have often been the subjects of attention researchers; studies demonstrating its effect on neuroplasticity and motor coordination are numerous and the field is increasingly getting the attention it deserves. Strait and Kraus (2011) investigated the effect of musical training on selective attention in situations like those of the classic cocktail party scenario (see previous blog). They found that musical training shaped pre-frontal neural activity involved in sustaining auditory attention; musicians have a facilitated attention system. The researchers highlight the usefulness of musical training for individuals with an attention impairment/disability, specifically those with speech problems, as musical training can be of such value in those increasingly prevalent, problem areas.

Virtual reality (VR) is an exponentially growing phenomenon we enjoy thanks to recent booms in technology. From The Sims to gangland shooting games, we are inundated with virtual environments we can sink our teeth into, indeed many students spend more time in VR slaying zombies or spending millions on football players than in the actual world. Cho et al (2002a) explored the use of VR in cognitive training for enhancing attention using a head mounted display projecting the virtual environment. They found that VR participants did significantly better than non-VR and control participants with increased correct scores and measures of attention. This study was conducted over two weeks with healthy participants, the researchers recognise that future studies should be more extensive and focus on a clinical population such as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) sufferers.

Parsons, Bowerly, Buckwalter and Rizzo (2007) used a virtual reality classroom to assess attention performance of children with ADHD and normal controls. This study found VR to be ineffective at improving attention for participants, but found that using a VR classroom is an effective tool for assessing ADHD, as they performed significantly worse on measures of attention than the control group. Cho et al (2002a) extended their attention enhancement system by adding EEG biofeedback (which involves behavioural contingency management with brain wave measurement) to their Virtual Reality software, they found it to be effective with children and adolescents exhibiting behavioural problems due to its interactive and immersive nature. To conclude this blog on attention enhancement I would like to return to my argument for mindfulness as a well-rounded practice that is beneficial in multiple areas e.g. anxiety, attention and performance.

This week I tried to find alternatives to mindfulness, I was interested by certain methods of cognitive training, thinking I would find alternatives and other methods of practicing paying attention. I approached music once again, and it has my continued support for a more extensive implementation in education. Mindfulness, despite western misconceptions, is fairly straightforward yet effective for multiple areas of education (motivation, emotion and attention). Whilst there are some newer effective methods in attention training, we must consider the thousands of years of development behind mindfulness in contrast to gimmicks that try to reproduce mindfulness techniques when judging what to export for schools. I maintain that our ability to pay attention is not so much ability, but a skill to be sharpened, a skill many of us neglect.

Attention is the Holy Grail. Everything that you’re conscious of, everything you let in, everything you remember and you forget, depends on it.

D. Strayer



Cho, B. H., Ku, J., Jang, D. P., Kim, S., Lee, Y. H., Kim, I. Y. (2002b). The effect of virtual reality cognitive training for attention enhancement. Cyberpsychology & Behavior, 5, 129–137.

Cho, B. H., Ku, J., Jang, D. P., Kim, S., Lee, Y. H., Kim, I. Y. (2002a). Attention Enhancement System using Virtual Reality and EEG Biofeedback. IEEE Virtual Reality 1087-8270/02

Kim, J., Wigram, T. & Gold, C. (2008). The Effects of Improvisational Music Therapy on Joint Attention Behaviors in Autistic Children: A Randomized Controlled Study. J Autism Dev Disord 38:1758–1766 DOI 10.1007/s10803-008-0566-6

O’Toole, L. & Dennis, T, A. (2012). Attention training and the threat bias: an ERP study. Brain and cognition. 1:78 DOI: 10.1016/j.bandc.2011.10.007

Parsons, T, D., Bowerly, T., Buckwalter, J, G. & Rizzo, A, A. (2007). A Controlled Clinical Comparison of Attention Performance in Children with ADHD in a Virtual Reality Classroom Compared to Standard Neuropsychological Methods, Child Neuropsychology: A Journal on Normal and Abnormal Development in Childhood and Adolescence, 13:4, 363-381

Sanabria, D., Capizzi, M. & Correa, A. (2011). Rhythms that speed you up. Journal of experimental psychology. Human perception and performance 1:37 DOI: 10.1037/a0019956

Strait, D, L. & Kraus, N. (2011 ).Can you hear me now? Musical training shapes functional brain networks for selective auditory attention and hearing speech in noise. Music, attention, and cortical variability. Vol 2 113 doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2011.00113

Attention and Depression


My blog topic over the next few weeks is attention, last week I introduced some theories and once again applied mindfulness to the discussion. This week I would like to talk about depression, it’s effects on attention, what that means for the classroom and how we could address the problem. Teenagers are more prone to depression, in fact twenty percent of teens will experience depression before adulthood and thirty percent of those will develop a substance abuse problem. I do not wish to argue that teens in school have a tougher time that the previous generation; the problems have just shape shifted. Teens of our generation are typically locked into social networks; face worse job prospects and (as I have argued in previous blogs) are not equipped with effective skills for emotional regulation and attention. Less than thirty percent of teens seek help for their depression and untreated depression is largest cause of suicide- the third leading cause of death amongst adolescents. In the consumer paradise we live in, prescriptions are a fast, “cost effective” method for solving problems like depression, however, as drugs such as Prozac have never been tested on young adults (in whom the brain is still developing) they can potentially be damaging. Indeed, drugs like Prozac increase suicidal tendencies especially in patients under the age of twenty-four.

Pupils suffering from anxiety disorders and/or depression will struggle in school; both social and academic commitments are strained by such conditions, whilst teachers and classmates alike may not have an understanding or tools to help and popular treatments for them may exacerbate the depressed child’s situation. Fröjd, Nissinen, Pelkonen, Marttunen, Koivisto and Kaltiala-Heino (2008) found that the lower the Grade Point Average (GPA- Global measure of academic performance in the U.S.) or a recent drop in GPA, the more common depression was, affecting concentration, social and academic areas. Not only does this suggest that depression has a role in assessment performance but that grading may negatively impact the depressed child in addition to the condition. Bullying in schools is fairly prevalent with at least one in ten pupils reporting such behaviour, to compound this problem; bullies are generally just as unhappy as their victims and are even more prone to suicidal tendencies. In addition, Salmon, James and Smith (1998) found a strong relationship between high depression scores and being a bully. Kaltiala-Heino, Rimpelä, Marttunen, Rimpelä and Rantanen (1999) found that children being bullied and their aggravators equally needed psychiatric interventions. Interestingly their study took place in Finland, and we all know how excellent Finland is regarding academic performance and a solid educational system.

An important symptom of depression in adults is cognitive impairment; specifically the inability to concentrate and sustain one’s attention (Klein, Fencilmorse & Seligman, 1976). Vasey, Daleiden, Williams and Brown (1995) found that children exhibit a mood-congruent attentional bias towards emotional threatening stimuli, whilst this bias serves an evolutionary survival purpose, it creates maladaptive changes in the child’s perception that may effect academic and social competency found in healthy counterparts. Whilst dissociations between depression and ADHD have been made, Brown, Borden, Clingerman and Jenkins (1988) found a relationship between depression and Attention Deficit-Disordered (ADD) children; whilst depression of parents carried over to children in both ADD and control subjects, ADD children’s parents were more likely to have depression and the interaction of attentional problems in ADD and depression compounds the problems faced in academia. This study suggests that greater resources for depression and academic achievement be allocated to students with identifiable attentional deficits.

Zylowska et al (2008) ran a feasibility study to test the value of a mindfulness course for adolescents and adults with ADHD; they found reductions in anxiety, depression and ADHD symptoms whilst finding improvements in attention and cognition. Singh et al (2010) explored mindfulness training for both children and parents with ADHD with a focus on the child’s compliance (non-compliance being a major hurdle with child ADHD sufferers). Whilst medication and contingency management are prevalent methods for the correction of such children and their behaviours, these are based on external control; the child never learns self control (arguably children without ADHD sometimes suffer the same fate). Parents were given training before children which increased satisfaction of interactions between parent and child, this was improved further after the children completed training.

Papageorgiou (2000) found significant reductions in depression and anxiety after an Attention Training Course. This Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) method successfully reduced negative automatic thoughts and rumination, two factors that are prioritised and addressed in Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction courses (MBSR). Habits like these along with self-blame and irrational fears are disabling for many young adults, and they are fueled by a right/wrong philosophy and obsession with grades over actual learning that is instilled in schools today. Our ability as humans to find innovative solutions to problems and learn without being scared to fail is based on seeing things clearly and having the skills to pay attention. Our day to day emotions can spiral out of control when we choose not to pay attention and this can have drastic impacts on our performance (Williams, Teasdale, Segal & Kabat-Zinn, 2007).

So what am I arguing for? Students paying more attention and regulating their emotions; creating more innovators that learn life skills in education and can effectively deal with their social, personal and academic challenges without spiraling into depression or disillusionment due to an ineffective, disengaging and stressful education system. Antidepressant drugs are not a solution to a problem that is growing exponentially, it is time to truly address depression and attention deficit with a risk free, scientifically backed practice that could alleviate just a few of the plethora of problems young adults face.


Brown, R, T., Borden, K, A., Clingerman, S, R. & Jenkins, P. (1988) Depression in Attention Deficit-Disordered and Normal Children and Their Parents. Child Psychiatry and Human Development, Vol. 18(3).

Fröjd, S, A., Nissinen, E, S., Pelkonen, Marttunen, M, J., Koivisto, M., Kaltiala-Heino, R. (2008). Depression and school performance in middle adolescent boys and girls, Journal of Adolescence, Volume 31, Issue 4, Pages 485-498, ISSN 0140-1971, 10.1016/j.adolescence.2007.08.006.

Kaltiala-Heino, R ., Rimpelä, M., Marttunen, M,. Rimpelä, A., Rantanen, P. (1999) Bullying, depression, and suicidal ideation in Finnish adolescents: school survey. doi:

Klein, D., Fencil-Morse, E, & Seligman, M, E. (1976). Learned helplessness, depression, and the attribution of failure. J Personal Soc Psychol, 33, 508-516.

Papageorgiou, C. (2000). Treatment of Recurrent Major Depression With Attention Training. Cognitive and Behavioral Practice 7, 407-413,

Salmon, G., James, A., Smith, D, M. (1998) Bullying in schools: self reported anxiety, depression, and self esteem in secondary school children. Child and adolescent psychiatry doi:

Singh, N, N., Singh, A, N., Lancioni, G, N., Singh, J., Winton, A, S, W. & Adkins, A, D. (2010) Mindfulness Training for Parents and Their Children With ADHD Increases the Children’s Compliance. J Child Fam Stud 19:157–166 DOI 10.1007/s10826-009-9272-z

Vasey, M, W., Daleiden, E, L., Williams, L, L. & Brown, L, M. (1995). Biased Attention in Childhood Anxiety Disorders: A Preliminary Study. Journal of Abnorrnal Child Psychology, Vol. 23, No. 2.

Williams, M., Teasdale, J., Segal, Z., Kabat-Zinn, J. (2007). The Mindful Way through Depression. New York: Guilford Press.

Zylowska, L., Ackerman, D, L., Yang, M, H., Futrell, J, L., Horton, N, L., Hale, T, S., Pataki, C. & Smalley, S, L. (2008). Mindfulness Meditation Training in Adults and Adolescents With ADHD; A Feasibility Study. Journal of Attention Disorders Vol 11 (6)